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Julia Parker
(This Page Is Under Construction)

From 1947 on Lucy Telles demonstrated basket waving at Yosemite, as tourism began to pick up after World War II. Her grandson Ralph brought his wife, Julia Pete Parker (Kashia Pomo) to live in the Valley, where she worked in the Park laundry. Julia had had a hard childhood, moving around with her migrant farm worker parents, until put in a BIA boarding school in Nevada after their deaths when she was 6. Lucy taught Julia, who was interested in preserving Indian culture, Miwok-Paiute traditions, and the skills of basketry. Julia helped to support her 4 children and 9 grandchildren by selling baskets.

After Lucy Telles died in 1956, the Park Service asked Julia Parker to take over as a cultural demonstrator. She continued her studies with Carrie Bethel, Minnie Mike and Ida Bishop (local Miwok-Paiutes), and later studied Pomo basketry with Pomo master weaver Elsie Allen at Ukiah and several others. As cultural demonstrator and supervisor of the program, Parker has been a key figure in preserving games, tools, foods of the traditional heritage, as well as basketry. She teaches classes and demonstrations at Yosemite, many elementary schools, colleges and museums. She has been featured in documentary videos of the traditional culture, and is writing a book about it.

Text by: Paula Giese 

Julia Domingues Parker

Julia Domingues Parker was born in 1929 to Lily Pete, a Pomo woman. She was placed in foster care in 1934 after her mother died.

In 1948 she married Ralph Parker. They had four children. Julia learned to weave baskets from Tina Charlie, her husband's great aunt. She learned more from Carrie Bethel and Minnie Make and others.

Julia is known throughout California for her basket weaving. She is an employee of the National Park Service and works in the Indian Cultural Program. Her philosophy is: "Take from the earth and give back to the earth, and don't forget to say please and thank you."

Julia F. Parker
Basket Weaver, California Indian, Miwok/Pomo/Paiute Cultural Curator

Born:                   February 1928
Married:            1945 to Ralph Parker, Mono Lake Paiute
Home:                 Midpines, CA near Yosemite National Park
Famous Quote:    Always take with a ‘Please’ and give back with a ‘Thank You’

Biographical Background:
Julia Parker is a California Indian who has dedicated her life to learning, teaching and continuing the cultures of her people. She was born in 1928 in Marin. Her mother who was Kashia Pomo and her father who was Coast Miwok. Her parents died when she was young and she was sent with her brothers and sisters to Indian school. When she was 17 she married her husband Ralph and moved to live with his family in Yosemite. Ralph is the last full-blooded Mono Lake Paiute Indian. Ralph’s grandmother, Lucy Telles, was a very famous basket weaver and worked in the visitor’s center museum in Yosemite. Julia spent many hours with Lucy watching and learning how to gather materials from the natural landscape and to make beautiful and useful baskets from those materials. When Julia was ready, Lucy began teaching her to weave her own baskets. Julia never had a grandmother to teach her such things so she was very thankful. Julia had natural talents for making baskets and Lucy couldn’t teach her everything she
wanted to know. Julia was trained by all the famous Native Californian basket weavers.

Julia’s baskets have attracted much attention all over the world. She has even presented her baskets to the Queen of England! Many of her baskets are in museums in Yosemite, Mono Lake and other museums and personal collections around the world.

Current Efforts:
Julia Parker hopes that the traditions of her people are not lost and so she continues learning and teaching them as often as she can. She is worried that the land and the lessons it has to teach are being lost to development and modernization. She worries that there are too many people who are not
interested in the history of the land and its people. She is also worried that Indian children are not learning about their ancestors, their traditions and their responsibilities to the future generations. Julia will not let these things happen.

She has inspired many people, Indian and non-Indian, to learn and pass-on the traditions of her people. She knows that by teaching students to weave baskets she is not only teaching them a sacred skill but also connecting them in a magical way to history and the environment. Basket weavers need to know where
the land is healthiest so they can gather materials without destroying the natural balances of the ecosystem. Basket weavers also learn a great respect for the materials they use, for it is the fiber and not the weaver who makes a beautiful basket. She offers traditions that keep the weaver humble like giving
away your first and other special baskets. Julia also teaches how to gather and process acorn, a tradition passed through thousands of generations that has provided protein and sustenance to millions. She respects the 150 species of plants and animals who share the need for acorn in their diets and only takes
what she needs and leaves the rest for the plants and animals.

Julia Parker currently demonstrates basket weaving and acorn processing at the visitor’s center and museum in Yosemite National Park. She also travels the country teaching basket, acorn and other classes. She is a great storyteller and teaches many lessons through her fiction and non-fiction stories. Julia
also teaches many honoring songs that celebrate people, nature and their interactions.
Julia Parker has inspired thousands of people to pay more attention to the world around them. At 73 years old, in the face of shrinking habitats and homogenized culture, Julia is effecting a positive impact on the survival of her people and the land that has sustained them for thousands of years.

From the Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School Website


Julia Parker is well known throughout California as a basket weaver. She has shared the lifestyles of Indian life in Yosemite Valley for the past forty years with tourists visiting Yosemite National Park. Julia is an employee of the National Park Service in the Indian Cultural Program, where she teaches and shares a lifetime of knowledge, which fulfills her personal goal of passing her skills and knowledge to the younger generation.



Quote and Picture - May 8th, 1999

Read A Question - Answer Session with Julia Parker



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Last edited on: 02/15/02